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Comic Book / Scud the Disposable Assassin

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"'Vengeance is mine,' sayeth the Lord. Not anymore! Get your bile piled up, get your spite in a bag... It's the best damn vengeance you've ever had!"

Scud the Disposable Assassin is a graphic novel series by Rob Schrab, set in a bizarre, hideously amoral world where robotic assassins called Scuds are readily available on every street corner, and dispensed from vending machines. Scuds are deadly, agile, remorseless, heavily armed... and they explode upon terminating their assigned target, so you never have to worry about incriminating evidence.

Our protagonist is just another Scud, hired to clear out a pest control problem, a monstrous creature called Jeff. Realizing that killing Jeff means immediate death for him as well, Scud instead painfully immobilizes Jeff and has her hospitalized. Seeking the necessary cash to keep Jeff's medical bills paid to keep them both alive, Scud now has to go freelance, in a world that seems doomed to eternal peril.

The series originally lasted for 20 issues, published from 1994 to 1998, with the final issue ending in a cliffhanger. Four additional issues appeared in 2008, continuing the original numbering. The #24th issue is so far the finale for the series. There was also a video game released for the Sega Saturn in 1997.

This comic book series provides examples of:

  • Abnormal Ammo: In the video game, Drywall uses a piranha gun - literally a gun hooked to a tank of piranhas.
  • A.I. Is a Crapshoot: System was initially built for evil, but nobody expected him to out-evil Satan himself and take over hell.
  • A Fate Worse Than Death: The werewolf in issue 11 explodes in the vacuum of space, then his natural Healing Factor reassembles himself, then he explodes again, and reassembles himself again, and so on until the end of time.
  • Always Save the Girl: Scud agrees to kill the world in order to bring Sussudio back from the dead. This is not presented as the right choice, and Drywall calls him out on it.
  • Anti-Hero: Throughout the comic, Scud's pretty much looking out for himself, and doesn't really do anything that won't directly benefit him in some way (For example, refusing to help the mafia fight off the dinosaurs, even though he's right there, until they pay him.) He is an assassin, after all.
  • Art Evolution: The art in early issues is fairly cartoony and uses lots of round shapes, while later issues use a more angular, expressive style.
    • This is best seen with Scud himself. In early issues, he's very tall, sharp, his body language is very rigid, he has careful shading and details, and his head is thin and distinctly pill-shaped. By the end, he's gotten shorter, stouter, he bends easier, and has mastered facial expressions despite only having eyes to express. Also, his head is very much a rectangle and his eyes are bigger.
  • Bait-and-Switch: One of the "H O R S E" arc's issues follows a group of nerdy teens getting attacked by a deranged, masked serial killer. It's established early on that the beach where Scud and the teens are hanging out is rumored to be haunted by the ghost of a lifeguard who died there, and the issue seems to be building up to the reveal that this murderer is in fact him. Nope! The ghost is actually a good guy and drags the serial killer into the ground, where the issue promptly ends. Oh, and that serial killer? He was actually one of the Horsemen of the Apocalypse, for extra insanity.
  • Bag of Holding: Drywall, along with his brothers, Mess and System. All of them were commissioned by Satan himself to collect all material items in the world after the Rapture begins. System decided to take it the extra mile and collect everything, starting with Satan.
  • Beethoven Was an Alien Spy: Benjamin Franklin is an Occultist Crime Boss.
  • Big Bad: Voo-Doo Ben is the most reoccurring threat in the comic, with his experiments and rituals often interfering with whatever job Scud is on. He plays second fiddle to System and the Seraphim in the last story arc.
  • Bottomless Magazines: Though one line ("I haven't run out of bullets yet.") implies that Scud's guns have a set ammo capacity. It's apparently just really, really high. This carries over into the video game, where you never run out of ammo nor need to reload.
  • Caught Up in the Rapture: The Rapture, apparently, took place right after the release of Ghostbusters II, and due to Satan never showing up and God refusing to throw the first punch, it never ended.
  • Cerebus Syndrome: Enters this around issue 20, then manages to undo itself by 24.
  • Chekhov's Gun: The God's Tear.
  • Combat Tentacles: Sussudio had these back in her stints as a cat burglar named Black Octopus. She later regains them after Scud revives her with Jeff's heart.
  • Crapsack World: Face it, if you can buy assassins on the street from vending machines, you live in one.
  • Cruel Twist Ending: The original run of the comic. Scud is teleported to heaven, where the Seraphim explain to him and Sussudio that the numerous monstrosities Scud has killed over the adventure are actually the Horsemen of the Apocalypse. Since all of them are dead or out of commission, the Seraphim enlist Scud to end the world instead. They do this by brutally hacking apart Sussudio and saying they'll bring her back if he goes through with it- which he agrees to. The end! However, this is inverted come the end of the new run, with the cast earning an Earn Your Happy Ending.
  • Decoy Protagonist: Issue 3 of Tales of the Vending Machine starts out with a group of children reading a forbidden tome, then it reveals that they are actually demons in Hell and the focus switches to an angel that they inadvertently stranded there, who murders the demons and orders a Heartless 666 Scud to accompany him. Then, the angel gets gunned down and the focus stays with Heartless 666 for the rest of the story.
  • Double Standard Rape: Female on Male: Sussudio gets no flak for tying Scud to a bed and raping him (inasmuch as a robot without genitals can be raped). Then again, a lot of crimes are committed in this world without consequences.
  • Earn Your Happy Ending : The final pages of Issue 24 says it all.
  • Easily Forgiven: Scud not only bears Sussudio zero ill will for, somehow, raping him but ends up falling in love with her too.
  • Eldritch Abomination: Just about every non-human could qualify do to how downright bizarre they look. But special mention has to go the Horsemen of the Apocalypse whose ranks include the already mentioned Jeff, a Jason Voorhees-esque serial killer who may or may not be human, a giant worm with the head of a dog and multiple breasts, and something that has what can only be described as a city on fire as its main body.
    • Jeff is a special case since her(?) design is so utterly absurd that it has to be seen to be believed. She's an eight foot tall humanoid with an electric plug for a head, mousetraps for hands, a squid belted to her chest, has hands for feet and talks by shouting movie quotes out of her kneecaps, which have mouths on them!
  • Eyepatch After Time Skip: Drywall, kinda. He doesn't actually wear one, though he's still missing one of his eyes when we see him in the Image run.
  • Fat Bastard: Voo-Doo Ben certainly qualifies, as does the Mayor of Bobsled.
  • Flowery Elizabethan English: After losing an arm in his battle with Scud Sol, Scud ends up having to borrow an arm that belonged to a werewolf, which causes his speech patterns to slip in and out of this at times.
  • God Is Good: But he sure is mean. The lore of the comic is that God wanted to end the world with the Rapture, but Satan never showed since he was consumed by System. On principle, God decided to never throw the first punch so to speak, and so the rapture has continued on indefinitely. His angels eventually usurped him and locked him away, and the minute he gets free he goes on a brutal rampage against them, devouring them whole. However, God is not without virtue either- there are numerous hints he's orchestrating the events of the comic to create the best outcome for everyone, and upon hearing what his Seraphim are doing to Scud by making him kill the Earth, he cries a single tear.
  • Greater-Scope Villain: System. And then later, The Seraphim, as they were the ones responsible for alot of bad events in the series.
  • Guns Akimbo: With four guns, in one issue. Two in each hand.
  • Hand Cannon: Scud's guns are as long as his forearms.
    • Possibly Lampshaded during a scene we see from Jeff's point of view, in which Scud is depicted with literal cannons for hands.
  • Hand Wave: Lampshaded/Parodied.
    SCUD:"Why aren't you dead yet, you fat, evil man?"
    Voo-Doo Ben Franklin:"Early to bed, early to rise, blah blah blah, shut the fuck up."
  • How We Got Here: The video game's first few levels are framed as the computer AM-2 telling Sussudio Scud's origin story, allowing Sussudio to function as an Audience Surrogate for those unfamiliar with the story.
  • Hyperspace Arsenal: This is pretty much Drywall's entire gimmick.
  • I Cannot Self-Terminate: The Scud Sol. Not because it's not programmed to; because its armor is too durable for even its own weapons to pierce.
  • Idiot Ball: Oswald's cause of death is picking up a porn magazine in the middle of a gunfight.
  • Knight of Cerebus: Surprisingly, Drywall, if you stretch the meaning slightly. While the character's immediate introduction doesn't trigger the darker shift, his origin story is one of the first really nightmarish turns.
  • Life Meter: In the game. Scud's, as well as boss enemies, are unusual in that they fill as their owner takes damage. Drywall's is more straightforward, being a zipper (like his mouth) that unzips to represent how much damage he's taken.
  • Light Is Not Good: Not since the seraphim took over Heaven, at least.
  • Logic Bomb: Ask a S.A.M. robot to kill a zombie for you. Go on. Ask.
  • Manly Man:
    • The Grittites, a cult that worships "manliness and unnecessary explosions."
    • The Mr. Tough Guy Competition, a yearly global contest in which contestants prove their toughness in events like Jackhammer Fencing and Lava Hockey.
  • Mooks : Played with in Issues 21 and 22; Voodoo Ben has purchased Scudco, the company that made the main protagonist. As a result, he has a near unending supply of Scud's, some the same model as our hero. The end result is a montage of Scud kicking the crap out of himself.
  • Mix-and-Match Critters: Jeff is part squid, part plug, part mousetrap, part something or other. She can also replace missing limbs with anything she finds nearby; at her highest point, she was part squid, part plug, part horse, part piano, part crocodile with a chaingun in its mouth, part clown puppet holding a buzzsaw, and part whatever the hell the rest of her is.
  • Morality Dial: The Contempt Meter which measures Scud's sadism. Set it at one, get the job done. Set it at ten, never see them again.
    • Early on a laser blast damages Scud's circuitry in a way that jacks his Contempt up to 15!
  • Ninja Pirate Zombie Robot: Voodoo Ben revives dinosaur bones at once point, creating Zombie Dinosaurs! Funnily enough, a bite from them will also turn you into a zombie dinosaur, as one don finds out.
    • The comic loves this trope. Not only do we get zombie dinosaurs, but werewolf astronauts, a cyborg mafia, and... well, whatever the hell Jeff is.
  • Our Werewolves Are Different: The werewolves in the Scud universe have a Healing Factor turned up to eleven; when one's head gets blown open, the brains fly back into his skull to heal him.
    • And turn into a sentient black hole if they ever touch the moon. Yeah, it's that kind of series.
  • Paper-Thin Disguise: Every employee at Superior Alien Military is an obvious alien wearing a human face mask. Held on with string and everything.
  • Rage Against the Heavens: The Seraphim try to invoke this by killing Sussudio in front of Scud, expecting that killing the only thing he really cares about would drive him into an omnicidal depression.
    • A smaller interior example also took place when the Seraphim overthrew God and took over heaven.
  • Riddle for the Ages: How exactly does one rape a living machine who lacks genitalia? Even Scud himself is unsure how Sussudio managed to do it.
  • Robosexual: Sussudio is apparently unable to be turned on by anything that isn't mechanical.
    • Scud takes Sussudio to task over this when he finds out that cyborg mafioso Tony Tasty used to date her, prompting her to respond "He's half robot, we had half a relationship."
  • Rogue Drone: Scud was programmed to take down his target and self-destruct, but a glitch in his programming gave him a will to live.
    • It's not so much a glitch in his programming as much as it is awareness that he will self-destruct if his target dies. He's not the only one, either; half of the hospital patients on life support were brought there by Scuds.
  • Set Right What Once Went Wrong: Scud and Sussudio argue whether the time traveling Horse, which sends them to a new location and disappears each time, functions based on either this or on a 12-hour time limit. After it sends them to Tony Tastey's wedding, where they spend much less than 12 hours and don't solve anyone's problems, they don't know what to say.
  • Shout-Out:
    • In issue 3 of the spinoff series, Tales from the Vending Machine, One-shot character, Heartless 666 has tentacles where his mouth should be. Hmmm...
    • Scud's internalized gun holsters are a pretty obvious shout-out to Robocop.
    • "Uh-oh, Chongo! It's Danger Island Time!"
    • Everything that ever comes out of Jeff's mouth. (Mouths. Both of which are located at her knees.) The end of each issue where she appears lists the movies she quoted in that issue.
    • The Sega Saturn video game has a computer called AM-2, named for the developers of Virtua Fighter and Virtua Cop, among other Sega arcade titles. Scud's handguns are also redesigned to resemble the "Stunner" light gun design Sega sold for the Saturn and used for its arcade cabinets.
  • Sliding Scale of Idealism vs. Cynicism: The series is extremely cynical until the very end where it actually becomes a happy and idealistic conclusion.
  • Speaks in Shout-Outs: Everything Jeff says is a quote from a movie, a TV show, commercial, song, etc.
  • Spin-Off: Two of them. El Cosa Nostroid, about the mafiosi Scud meets in the beginning of the store, and Tales From the Vending Machine, charting the stories of various different Scud units.
  • Starfish Aliens
  • Suddenly Speaking: Manages to do this despite being a comic in that Drywall becomes capable of speaking English like everyone else during the last four issues, with the first time he does so being just before Oswald's death.
  • Superior Species: Parodied in the form of "Superior Alien Military" military-industrial products and corporation.
  • Took a Level in Badass: Drywall, in the ten years Scud was in stasis.
  • The Unintelligible: Drywall and his brethren speak a language that can only be understood by creatures without a soul, such as robots and lawyers. Interestingly, the Wingding language contains the same number of symbols as the sentence being translated, so with proper context clues one can roughly translate much of their dialogue.
  • Three Laws-Compliant: Inverted. Scud's encounter with Joe Cool reveals his programming houses a warped version of the three laws of robotics, beginning with "A Scud does not value life and will allow, through action or inaction, life to be harmed."
  • Unsound Effect: All the time. Some among the lines of "Finger!", "Grab Head!" and "Haul ASS!".
  • Werewolf Theme Naming: All four of the astronauts on a space shuttle that Scud hijacks. Only one of them is a werewolf, though.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: The giant gatling gun Scud uses on the Grittites is never seen again.
  • You Have Outlived Your Usefulness: As foreshadowed by the title.

Alternative Title(s): Scud The Disposable Assassin